In this post, I’m going to teach you 2 forms of saying “we” in Portuguese. You must be asking yourself: 2 ways? Why do we have 2 options? What’s the difference between them? That’s what I’m going to teach you in this post. I’ll tell you something: one of these forms is the most used form here in Brazil. Read this all and you will know which one it is.
But before we start, leave a comment here telling us if you already knew about these uses or if this is something totally new for you. This tip I’ll give you now is very important for anyone who wants to speak Portuguese naturally! And if you’re learning Portuguese and don’t want to miss any of our tips, subscribe to our Youtube channel; activate notifications and we will always let you know when we have a new video available, deal? In our Youtube channel, you will find a lot of videos about different topics. Just click here to watch one about “Nós” and “A gente.
2 forms of saying we: “nós” and “a gente”
Let’s get started: in Portuguese the pronoun that corresponds to “we” is “nós”.
So, we say:
Nós vamos à praia todos os domingos.
Nós esperamos por ele até tarde.
Nós trabalhamos juntos na mesma empresa.
Nós estamos casados há seis anos.
Whenever you want to say “we” then just use “nós”. Cool?
But there is another way of saying “we” in Portuguese. And it is the most used way by native speakers in natural everyday conversations.
In Brazilian Portuguese, you can say “we” also with the pronominal expression: “a gente”.
I called it a pronominal phrase because it is a pronoun but formed by two words: the article A and the noun GENTE. Hence the name pronominal locution. It’s just a grammatical name to categorize things. You don’t need to worry too much about it, okay?
It may seem strange, since “a gente” out of context, alone like that, literally means “the people”.
But for some reason we use it when we want to include ourselves in a group, it’s the same thing as us.
A gente X Agente
But pay attention: “a gente” is written separately!!!! “Agente” written together means something else. It is the same as “agent” in English. For example: John é um agente do FBI.
Now imagine the phrase: We are an FBI agent. (We are FBI agents). Funny right? But it’s an entirely possible phrase.
Differences between “Nós” and “A gente”
Difference 1: Verb conjugation
Now, even though it means the same thing, “nós” and “a gente” have some differences.
The first difference is that “nós” is a first-personal, plural pronoun. While “a gente” is a third person singular pronoun. This means that when we use “a gente”, we conjugate verbs in the third person singular, as when we use “ele”, “ela”, or “você”.
So let’s see the examples I told you about earlier with “nós”, how they would look with “a gente”:
Nós vamos à praia todos os domingos. X A gente vai à praia todos os domingos.
Nós esperamos por ele até tarde. X A gente esperou por ele até tarde.
Nós trabalhamos juntos na mesma empresa. X A gente trabalha junto na mesma empresa.
Nós estamos casados há seis anos. X A gente está casado há seis anos.
Did you notice the difference in the conjugation of the verbs in the sentences? Just remember how you would use the verbs with “você” or “ela” or “ele”. Verbs will be used with “a gente” in the same way.
Difference 2: formality
The second difference is that “nós” is a more formal pronoun. While “a gente” is totally informal. In most grammars, “a gente” isn’t even mentioned. Because it is something unique related to oral speech or writing in more informal situations.
And that’s probably why in Brazil we use “a gente” much more than “nós”. That’s right, with friends, family, in everyday situations, we end up using “a gente” more than “nós”.
Now a pro tip for you: if you are a beginner and find learning Portuguese conjugation something super difficult, I recommend you to always use “a gente” when you want to say “we”. Then you will only learn at first one conjugation that works for “você”, “ele”, “ela”, “a gente!”
A gente estuda.
And then, over time, you introduce other conjugations and learn to conjugate “nós”.
And you can use both forms whenever you want. There’s no one better than the other. Just remember that in Brazil we tend to be more informal in our daily lives and if you want to sound like a native, “a gente” will sound more natural! Cool?
You now can choose which of the two you prefer and start using it more often!
To continue studying, read this article here about Obrigado and Obrigada.
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